Working Mums News Summary

Untitled design (28)Ishreen Bradley, an executive coach who specialises in helping senior women fulfil their career potential discusses why there is still a 20% pay gap between men and women, and offers some tips on how women can become more confident about negotiating their salary.

Last week Microsoft boss Satya Nadella caused a storm by saying that women shouldn’t ask for pay rises, but rather put their trust in karma. This was his unfortunate response to the question: “What do you advise women who are interested in advancing their careers, but not comfortable … with asking for a raise?”

If Nadella is right – then why is there still a 20% pay gap between male and female salaries – clearly karma is not working.

Pay equality is a critical issue and Nadella’s ‘gaffe’ has brought it to the world’s consciousness. Whilst he has apologised for his remarks and says he wants to be a role model for other CEOs in fostering diversity and equality – how should women approach the pay question at work? How can they ask for a pay rise or equal pay with confidence?

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will soon be announcing that all Civil Service employees will be entitled to full parental pay from April 2015.

As things currently stand in the civil service, only females are entitled to full pay when a couple choose to share parental leave.

It follows an announcement last year in which the government said that from April 2015 parents will have a fully flexible choice over how they split their 52 week parental leave entitlement – other than the first fortnight, which the mother must take.

The changes will enable more fathers to spend time caring for their new-born children, Mr Clegg will say.

Read the full news story on BBC News

Facebook and Apple are going to help cover the cost of freezing eggs for their female staff, giving them the opportunity to delay starting a family for the sake of their career.

The initiative is part of the so-called “perks arms race” as Silicon Valley firms battle to recruit top talent.  It is hoped the perk will attract more women into a traditionally male-dominated sector.

Facebook is already offering this perk, with Apple set to follow suit in January 2015.

The firms are offering up to $20,000 (£12,600) to cover the full egg harvesting/freezing procedure and storage costs.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics in the UK indicate that many women are delaying motherhood to concentrate on their careers.

The annual report entitled ‘Public Mental Health’ commissioned by Chief Medical officer Dame Sally Davies makes 14 recommendations to improve public mental health services.

Mental illness is the leading cause for work absences in 2013 accounting for 70 million sick days.

Highlights from the report include:

  • mental health is just as important as physical health, mental health services need to be valued and the scale of the burden of disease caused by mental illness needs to be acknowledged
  • more needs to be done to help people with mental illness stay in work, as since 2009, the number of working days lost to ‘stress, depression and anxiety’ has increased by 24% and the number lost to serious mental illness has doubled

Some of the key recommendations related mental illness in the workplace:

Employment is central to mental health and it needs to be a routine part of patient records. So, the Health and Social Care Information Centre, working with the Royal College of General Practitioners and other Royal Colleges, should review the existing taxonomy for the routine collection of employment data to ensure that it is usable and can be coded across all care settings. Employment status should then become a routine part of all patient records. NICE should analyse the cost benefit of providing a fast and efficient integrated pathway for psychiatric provision for people with mental illness, who risk falling out of work, aimed at maximising their ability to stay in work.

Read the full report online: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/351629/Annual_report_2013_1.pdf

At the beginning of this week we entered a new era of flexible working rights. Yet research from remote access software company, LogMeIn, has shown that only 29% of managers are aware of the changes that have come into effect.

It appears there is a lot of work to do yet to spread the message of what is and isn’t allowed so, to clarify, let’s talk through the main changes.

The biggest difference is that the right to make a flexible working request now applies to all staff (full-time or part-time) who meet the qualifying period of 26 weeks continuous service. Prior to 30th June this right only applied to parents with a child under the age of 17 (18, in the case of disability) or to those with caring responsibilities for adults. It should be pointed out that this remains a right to request only – employers have no statutory obligation to accept the flexible working request and can still, therefore, refuse them providing there is a legitimate business reason to do so.

The very strict time-tabled procedure that workers and employers previously had to adhere to when applying and responding to such a request has now been loosened.  Employers are now required to deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’ and within a three month period.  ACAS (The Advisory, Concilliation and Arbitration Service) have produced a useful Code of Practice on how this should be interpreted.  As with before, employees are only allowed to submit one flexible working request in a 12 month period.

A final change is that the employee no longer has a statutory right to appeal against the decision, and they no longer have a right of accompaniment to the meeting to discuss the request.  However, in both cases ACAS recommend consideration of these to be good practice.  If a request for flexible working is refused, the employee must make any claims to an employment tribunal within 3 months.

For anyone requiring more information on flexible working rights it is advised in the first instance that they refer to the relevant pages on the Gov.UK website or the ACAS website.

George Osborne has today announced a plan to help 2.9 million families with their childcare costs of up to £2,000 per child each year.

The Chancellor will expand and speed up a £750m-a-year “tax-free childcare” scheme he proposed in last year’s Budget in a significant boost for low and middle-income families. Originally, the Coalition planned to provide up to £1,200 per child per year – by meeting 20 per cent of childcare costs up to £6,000 a year per child. The new limit will meet 20 per cent of bills, up to £10,000 a year.

Originally this financial help was planned to be phased in over a sevon year period but its now expected to start in the Autumn of 2015.  The programme will cover all children under 12 years of age within a year.

Read the full story with the accompanying news video online at: www.independent.co.uk

According to research entitled ‘Boardrooms and Babies’ carried out by maternitycover.com, more than 68% of working mothers claim to earn less than they did before having their baby.

1,300 UK women were surveyed for the research which also found that 54% of new mums had to end their maternity leave early because of financial worries.

Other statistics from the research are as follows:

  • A mere 5% of respondents experienced an increase in salary
  • 5% of respondents got into debt due to maternity leave pay, with 23% of this group blaming their employer’s poor maternity package
  • 73% of respondents said they are better employees as a result of having a baby, with 32% of this group believing that motherhood has made them more focused and organised.

Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer of Maternitycover.com, said:

Women face countless unspoken taboos when it comes to having children and maintaining a career. Our survey makes this all too clear.

We wanted to drill down into what women really experience, practically and financially, in the workplace when a baby appears on the scene. Only by lifting the lid in this way can we encourage conversation and improve communication between everyone involved.

Research conducted by The Independent newspaper suggests that up to 50,000 women who take maternity leave each year are unable to return to the jobs they left behind because of discrimination by employers.

These worrying new figures, analysed by the House of Commons library, found that as many as 14 per cent of the 340,000 women who take maternity leave every year find their positions under threat when they try to return.

Some women are told that they cannot do their old job part-time and are forced into roles with less responsibility while others are effectively constructively dismissed. Those who do return to the same job sometimes find it harder to get promotion, leading to a growing pay gap between men and women in later life.

You can read the full article online at: www.independent.co.uk